I watched her as she interviewed her prospective nanny. She insisted that she had to wear a uniform each morning she reported to work. The prospective Nanny’s body language said it all for me. I saw her shoulder subtly contract in defiance and her brow furrow as she said in a strong but quiet voice “Is it every day, Ma?” In no uncertain terms my friend told her that she had to wear the uniform every time she was in her home. I knew instinctively that that relationship would not work. In that brief encounter, I saw a little ‘red flag’ being hoisted. ‘Nanny’ was bound to resent a uniform-wearing, regimented lifestyle while ‘Madam’ was not available for any compromise on dress code. ‘To wear or not to wear’ was going to provoke very angry and hostile reactions from both sides.
In most relationships ‘red flags’ are pretty obvious. I had to learn very early in life to take off my rose-tinted shades and look at people as objectively as possible before letting them into my life. I have not always succeeded but I know the signs are usually obvious. For instance, people that get angry and ‘lose it,’ cussing out fellow drivers on the road while horning fiercely and using swear words always put me on the alert. I can’t stop wondering how they would react when I make them cross. Also, listening to people speak carelessly about their ‘friends’ makes me wonder how I would be talked about if and when I become their friends too. For me, that is usually a bright sign screaming, “I am a snitch and I cannot be trusted…”
I have watched young and precious relationships hit the rock many times. Upon intervention, I saw that all the symptoms were obvious from the very beginning. They were either ignored, idealized or glamorized. I felt shattered as I watched my much younger friend sob her heart out when she discovered that her husband (of less than one year) was having an affair.
She said over and over again “…but I should have known …” In between her sobs, she narrated how her husband had made it clear from the very beginning that he was not going to be accountable to her or anyone else. She recounted an incident that occurred while they were still dating. She called him late one evening and he didn’t seem very keen on talking with her. She wondered why he was in such a hurry to get off the phone and she asked him repeatedly who he was with and where he was at. He didn’t answer before the line went off. She was shocked when he sent her a message reading “Back off! I am not obligated to give you an account of my life… it is my life. I live it how it pleases me.” Though she was troubled by the answer, she chose to ignore it, concluding that most men would not want to be answerable to their partners. Unfortunately she didn’t pay attention to the consequences of non-accountability in a committed relationship. Those were dazzling red neon lights blazing… CAUTION!
Though no one is perfect, every adult ought to have a clear idea of the things they can put up with or at the very least the things they cannot put up with. These should form boundaries that their partners must make a deliberate effort not to cross.
Pat Mumby PhD, Professor and Co-Director of the Loyola Sexual Wellness Clinic could not have put it better when he wrote: “Falling in love causes our body to release a flood of feel-good chemicals that trigger specific physical reactions… The phrase ‘love is blind’ is a valid notion because we tend to idealise our partner and see only things that we want to see in the early stages of the relationship….”
This internal elixir of ‘love’ chemicals (dopamine and adrenaline) create the feelings of euphoria, racing hearts, sweaty palms and the entire paraphernalia of falling in love. These chemicals can make people see only what they want to see even when all the other signs are in place and very visible.
As you decide to enter that relationship please remove those rose tinted shades and tone down those ‘love’ chemicals- the signs are usually there and the voice inside your head may be saying CAUTION!
*All characters and other entities appearing in this article are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, dead or alive, or other real-life entities, past or present, is purely coincidental.